Earth May Be Responsible for Rust on Moon, Study Says

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. remnant / ˈrɛm nənt / (n) – a small remaining part of something

    These stone houses are remnants of a past civilization.

  2. composition / ˌkɒm pəˈzɪʃ ən / (n) – the mixture or combination of things that form something

    The scientists are studying the composition of the unique rock.

  3. pole / poʊl / (n) – each of the ends of the axis of the Earth or of any spherical body

    The Earth has two magnetic poles.

  4. puzzling / ˈpʌz lɪŋ / (adj) – hard to understand, explain, or solve

    She gave a very puzzling answer; I didn’t understand what she meant.

  5. crater / ˈkreɪ tər / (n) – a large hole or dent on the surface of the Earth, Moon, etc.

    The Moon’s surface looks smooth from afar, but when examined closely, you can see its craters.


Read the text below.

Researchers have discovered remnants of rust on the Moon and said that Earth may be responsible.

In a study published in the journal Science Advances, the researchers found that the composition of the Moon’s poles is different from that of its other areas. Upon inspection of the poles, lead author Shuai Li found traces of the mineral hematite, commonly known as rust, on iron-rich lunar rocks. He found the discovery puzzling because the Moon lacks oxygen and water, which are needed to form rust. To confirm his findings, Li contacted scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

After reaching out to JPL scientists, the researchers hypothesized that rust on the Moon forms when oxygen from the Earth’s upper atmosphere is blown to the lunar surface by solar wind. According to Li, this explains why more hematite is present on the side of the moon that faces the Earth.

Another speculation is that small quantities of water within the Moon’s craters might have helped in the formation of rust. When dust particles hit the Moon, water molecules are released and mixed with iron on the lunar surface, creating a rust-inducing chemical reaction.

According to Vivian Sun, one of the researchers, the findings suggest that more complicated chemical processes are taking place in the solar system than previously known. She said that sending future missions to the Moon can help scientists understand some of the processes better.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think it’s important to confirm whether or not Earth is responsible for the formation of rust on the Moon? Why or why not?
• Do you think that there should be more missions to the Moon? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Why do you think scientists continue to study the Moon? Explain.
• If you had the opportunity, would you like to travel to the Moon? Why or why not?